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Tech Refresh with No Strings Attached

A small college finds smart ways to issue laptop systems to incoming freshman, thanks to CDW-G.

Thanks to an aggressive technology modernizationproject initiated by a tech-savvy administration and an energetic technology director brought in to execute the plan, PresentationCollege is quickly discovering how the right tools can attract students and help everyone work more efficiently.

The 200 or so freshmen arriving at the Aberdeen, S.D., campus this fall were required to purchase their own Acer TravelMate 2304 notebook PC. In addition to providing on-ramps to the school’s new wireless network,

the portable computers will also create a technology foundation to serve the students throughout their undergraduate years and eventually in their careers.

To fill out their computing toolbox, each student received a “tech pack”, a backpack containing a disk

loaded with Microsoft Office, a USB-compatibleflash memory drive and other accessories.

The private college’s tech refresh effort will give faculty and staff a boost as well. By having a standard platform, the college will assure that everyone has fast processors, suitable memory and enough storage capacity to run standard applications. The multimedia capabilities of the computers are especially important

for nursing majors, whose class and study materials are frequently DVD-based. Finally, by standardizing on a common platform, the college will be able to quickly respond to and fix support requests.

The growing wireless network provides the virtual thread that pulls all of this computing power together. From

classrooms, dorms, the library or at an off-campus location, studentswill be able to wirelessly call up data from school servers and tap into e-mail programs and the Web. Notebook-toting students will also connect to the network laser printers Presentation College is installing in its suite-sized dorm rooms. Information availability will extend to two satellite campuses operated by the college.

“People are more mobile, and they need technology that can help them when they’re on the move,” says Bobbi Jo Rissmann, Presentation College’s technology director. “People will be able to use their notebooks to access files from anywhere.”

So far, most of the work in bringing the modernization to life has centered on determining the right technologies and configurations appropriate for the college’s needs.

To help her, Rissmann has received ongoing advice from CDW-G, the technology distributor that is supplying the notebooks,wireless networking gear and associated software. Rissmann worked with CDW-G account manager Katie Wholey to learn the full range of equipment options and related considerations, such as warranties, volume software licensing and product availability.

“Katie was fabulous,” Rissmann says. “She found the right notebooks, and she came up with so many quotes. She helped us get the addendum to the Microsoft agreement. I didn’t even know that was a possibility until we started talking about it.”

Although hard financial numbers may not be available to quantify the return on investment of Presentation College’s modernization effort, Rissmann will apply her own yardstickat the end of the next school year. “In terms of success, student feedback will be the biggest factor.”

For more information contact CDW-G at 800.767.4239 or visit